Switching energy suppliers: How much can I save if I switch?
17 November 2020 | Celia Topping
From mortgages to mobiles, credit cards to car insurance, we are a nation of comparers. We love to shop around, find the best deals, then tell our friends about how much money we’ve saved. So why should home energy be any different?
For some reason, although we merrily swap and switch our way around broadband providers or travel insurancers, fewer of us actually take time to find a better deal when it comes to the one thing we spend a significant amount of hard-earned cash on: gas and electricity. Wouldn’t it be great to spend less on something as boring as heating your house? Find out how you can, the easy way:
Why switch energy? Find the best energy deal for you
If you’re still with the same supplier you signed up with years ago, chances are your original contract has ended. After this, your supplier will have most likely rolled you onto their default tariff. This, unfortunately, will probably be their most expensive one. You would’ve received a notification about this before it happened, but it’s an easy thing to miss.
This is why it’s important to compare what other suppliers can offer you. It’s not half as perplexing as you think, and it’s super quick. Plus, there’s no awkward phone call – you don’t even need to tell your old supplier, and your new supplier will do that for you.
Whether you’re looking for dual fuel, separate gas and electricity suppliers, green energy, a fixed tariff or a variable tariff, there’ll be a deal that suits you and your home. And if you don’t know what half of those terms mean, don’t worry, we’re here to help.
First things first: how to compare energy suppliers
There are over 50 energy suppliers on the market. Each one has their own unique blend of fixed and variable tariffs, with a mind-boggling array of prices and offers. And they’re all vying for your attention. No wonder it can feel a little overwhelming trying to decide which deal is right for you. But don’t let the jargon put you off.
The process couldn’t be easier. Take a look at a recent energy bill and find out how much you’re paying per month. Have a look at the energy suppliers available and get some quotes. At OVO all you need to tell us to get a quote is:
- Where you live
- If you currently pay by Direct Debit or prepayment
- How you currently pay for your bills – separately or together
- How many bedrooms you have
Save on your energy bills by switching to OVO. Get 100% renewable electricity and a tree planted every year in your name1.
How to switch energy suppliers
Making the switch couldn’t be simpler. It’d be useful to have a recent energy bill to hand, but it’s not essential. Just follow these 7 easy steps:
- Check a recent energy bill to work out how much you’re paying
- Take a look at the available energy plans and decide which best suits your needs
- Go to different suppliers’ quotes pages and enter your postcode
- They’ll come back immediately with a quote based on the average energy use of households in your area
- If you’re happy with the quote, they’ll just ask you for a bit more info, like your bank account details and your full address
- Sit back and leave the legwork to to your new supplier
- About 21 days later, you'll be seamlessly rolled onto your new supplier, with no interruption to your service
You don’t have to do a thing, apart from take a meter reading at the beginning of your contract. We will take care of it all – but It’s important to note:
- Your supply will continue uninterrupted during the switch
- There’s no need for any work to be done inside or outside your home
- Remember to pay your last bill with your old supplier, and ask about any credits you might be due
Let’s bust that jargon! Energy tariffs explained
Home energy shouldn’t be confusing – but some of the lingo might be. Here’s a quick guide to those pesky terms:
Fixed-rate tariff (also known as fixed-price or fixed energy) – this rate locks the amount you pay per unit of energy, or kWh (kilowatt hour). It doesn’t go up or down if the wholesale energy market fluctuates. Most people go for a fixed rate because they’re often cheaper and offer protection in a volatile market.
Variable rate tariff – unlike the fixed-rate, what you pay isn’t fixed. Your rate is at the discretion of your supplier, and could change at any time, depending on the market. If prices go up, so could your rate. Of course, if prices fall, you could end up paying less – but falling wholesale prices don’t always mean lower bills.
Green energy tariff
Green energy – this simply means the energy you buy is renewable, or sustainable – like solar, wind, hydro or biomass. These cause little-to-no environmental impact, unlike burning fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming and climate change.
Dual fuel tariff
Dual fuel – nothing to do with pistols at dawn! A dual fuel package simply offers you gas and electricity from the same supplier. If you’re currently using different suppliers for your gas and electricity, switching to a dual fuel supplier will undoubtedly save you money.
Interested in switching to OVO? Take a look at our tariffs
- Better Smart – this year-long contract is one for new members who don't yet have a smart meter. Our award-winning team will install one for you where eligible.
- Better Energy – a 12-month plan with fixed rates to protect you against price rises.
- 2-year Fixed Energy Plan - our most popular fixed-rate plan with 2 years’ protection
- Simpler Energy – a flexible rolling contract where prices could go up or down
In addition we also offer the OVO Beyond upgrade, for yet more carbon-crunching power. And if you have an electric vehicle, then our EV Everywhere tariff is the one for you, offering free Polar Plus membership and £100 off your own home car charger. We also offer plans like an Economy 7 tariff, giving you a cheaper electricity rate at night.
With all our plans, you can earn 3% interest on your energy credit balance in your first year (4% in your second, and 5% each year after that). Which is a nice extra treat from the 2020 winner of the Uswitch Award for Best Rewards (yes, that’s us!).
Tips for switching energy supplier and change your gas and electricity
It would be easy to just go for the biggest name on the energy supplier list. But a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach may not be the best option for you. There are other factors to bear in mind – which might actually make a smaller supplier more suitable for your needs, aspirations and lifestyle.
Some people prefer to stick with a big-name supplier as they’re worried about what might happen if a lesser-known one went bust. But there’s no need to fear. All energy suppliers are regulated by a government body called Ofgem.
This means even if a supplier goes bankrupt, you’re completely protected. Ofgem will ensure your supply is uninterrupted, and seamlessly roll you onto another supplier. So why not shop around and find a supplier that fits the way you live your life, not just the one you’ve always used. Things to consider:
- Cheaper prices. Obviously this is the biggy. With so many suppliers on the market, you can afford to shop around and find out how much you can save by switching. You could even call your supplier and ask if they’re willing to match any other tariff you find.
- Renewable energy. Maybe price isn't the deal-breaker for you. Consumers are increasingly interested in finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint to help stop climate change. There are various suppliers on the market who can help you do this by supplying you with energy from sustainable sources such as solar, wind, tidal and biomass. OVO included!
- Customer service. As a customer you want to feel valued. Check customer satisfaction scores online, and talk to your friends and family about their experiences.
- Payment options. While looking to switch, the pay monthly Direct Debit option is by far the easiest and cheapest method.
- Exit fees. Many suppliers charge a fee if you want to switch before the end of a fixed-term contract. Find out how much you stand to pay if you want to move on.
If you want to see some of the key details of your current tariff, you can look at your Tariff Information Label. If you want to learn more, check out our guide to TILs and how they can help you compare your tariff.
How much could you save? Get a quote
OVO’s energy plans are as varied as our members. We have a wide range of products and services that offer so much more than just plain ol’ energy.
We’re also committed to being a net zero carbon business by 2030, while helping our members halve their carbon footprint at the same time. Here are just some of the exciting things we can offer you on our journey to zero carbon:
- A tree planted every year in your name
- The tech to turn your electric car into your own personal power station
- Smart meters to put you in control of your energy use, and cut bills
- Energy-efficient heaters to save you money
- Carbon offsetting projects with OVO Beyond
And there’s so much more! Join OVO today and together we can cut carbon emissions and save you money.
Switching energy supplier when moving home
Moving home is allegedly one of life’s most stressful events. Don’t let switching energy supplier add to the strain. All you have to do is:
- Contact your current energy supplier before you leave. You can either close your account or take your tariff with you. If you’re still mid-contract on a fixed tariff, transferring could be the better solution to avoid paying exit fees.
- Take a meter reading on your last day in your old home and send it to your supplier, whether you’re sticking with them or not.
- Tell your existing supplier your new address. That way, if you’re switching, they can send you a final bill, refund anything that’s owed, and (if needed) manage the transfer of your current contract. Or if you’re staying with them, it’ll help with a smooth transition.
- On arrival in the new home, guess what? Take a meter reading! This will ensure you’ll get an accurate first bill from your existing supplier. If you’ve not transferred your old supplier, read our advice on how to find out who supplies your new home.
For more information on setting up a new contract, check out our handy guide on how to set up electricity and gas in your new home.
What else can I do to save money on energy?
At OVO, we’re all about making your home energy-efficient. Not only to save you money, but to reduce your carbon footprint for a cleaner, brighter future for our planet.
It’s not about shivering away the winter in a cold house – it’s about being canny where you can. Here are a few starter tips on how to reduce your gas and electricity bills:
- Turn your thermostat down by just one degree and you could save yourself £60 a year.
- Draught-proof your gaps. Insulating your loft and double-glazing your windows makes a huge difference to your warmth, and your wallet.
- Low-energy lightbulbs use 90% less energy than regular ones, and they last 10 times longer. Win-win!
- Idling appliances like TVs and laptops are costing you around £35 a year. Simply switch them off at the wall.
- Use your smart meter wisely, or if you haven’t got one yet, get one installed. They’re the most effective way to track your energy use and reduce bills.
Has that piqued your interest? For more energy-saving ideas (120 of them to be exact), see what our experts have to say in their helpful guide on energy saving.
Frequently asked questions about switching energy suppliers
How long does it take to switch energy supplier?
Switching couldn’t be easier. It takes as long as ticking a few boxes. All you need is:
- Your postcode
- Your current gas and electricity supplier and the name of your tariff
- A recent energy bill showing how much energy you use in kilowatt hours (kWh)
The actual changeover takes a little longer (about 21 days). And that includes a 14-day cooling off period, just in case you change your mind.
Are there any hidden charges or exit fees when switching?
Ofgem keeps the energy market on the straight and narrow, so there should be no hidden charges. Also, variable rate tariffs have no fees if you wish to switch. If you’re on a fixed-price tariff you may have to pay an exit fee. Usually this is around £30 for each fuel.
So if you're supplied with both electricity and gas, you’ll pay £60. Ouch. With that in mind, make sure that if you’re switching before the end of your contract, you’re saving more than the amount you’ll owe in exit fees!
Can I switch energy supplier without penalty?
You can, but only if you’re within 49 days of the end of your contract. Around this time you’ll get a letter from your supplier to remind you that your contract is coming to an end. Then you’re free to start shopping around...
Can I switch if I’m a tenant?
Absolutely! So long as you’re paying the bills directly, you’re in control. If your landlord is paying your bills as part of an all-inclusive package, you’d have to get their permission. They’d have to then organise the switch themselves – but there can’t be many landlords out there who wouldn’t agree to a cheaper rate!
Is it possible to switch suppliers if you’re in debt with the old supplier?
Officially, yes you can. So long as you owe less than £500. You’ll still have to repay the debt, of course. Then it’s up to your prospective supplier if they want to accept you as a customer.
What happens to credit when you switch energy suppliers?
Get ready for a refund! If you’re in credit when you take that final meter reading, your old supplier will credit your account automatically. Happy days!
Does it cost to switch gas and electricity suppliers?
Only if you’re breaking your contract on a fixed-rate tariff. Check with your supplier, as exit fees could be applied if you want to switch 49 days or more before your contract ends.
How often can I change energy supplier?
Crazy as it sounds, you could change your supplier every 28 days. Not that you’d want to, of course. Fixed-rate tariffs usually last at least 12 months, and you could incur fees if you leave early. But if you’re on a variable tariff, switch away!
Can I switch energy supplier if I have a smart meter?
Yes, of course you can! Don’t let a silly old meter get in the way of you and your new supplier! The process for switching is the same, whether you have a traditional or smart meter.
Simply go ahead and choose a new supplier, and during the process they’ll be able to let you know if your smart meter is compatible. Or, potentially, if a few changes are needed, they can sort it all out for you. For more advice, see our expert guide on how to switch suppliers with a smart meter.
If caring for the planet is as important to you as looking after your own home, check out one of OVO’s 100% renewable energy tariffs. Join us on our journey to zero carbon, and switch today!
Sources and references
1 The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.
2 Our website offers information about energy-efficiency solutions, but not personal advice. It is intended to provide information and guidance only. You assume responsibility for any decisions made or actions taken based on the information provided.